It had been 13 years, 3 months and 18 days since David Edwards last won a professional golf event. But it only took him 3 months and 19 days to win on the Champions Tour.
Edwards, who won his last PGA Tour title at the 1993 MCI Heritage Classic, birdied six of the last 11 holes Aug. 6 to cap a late surge that earned him the 3M Championship title and a career-best check of $262,000.
“It’s exciting, it’s a relief – it’s a lot of things,” said Edwards, who turned 50 April 18 and was playing in his 11th event on the senior circuit. “I’ve been looking forward to this for a long time and working hard to prepare to play on this tour.”
The Oklahoma resident, who began the day trailing Curtis Strange by three, had a roller-coaster ride on the greens Sunday at the TPC Twin Cities. He fell five shots back after missing 18-inch putts on the first two holes. Then he made a pair of 40-footers in the midst of a five-birdie run over six holes (Nos. 8, 9, 11, 12 and 13). After four consecutive pars, he closed with another birdie on the par-5 18th.
Edwards – who was playing in the final group for the third time this season and had posted three top 5s in his first 10 events on tour – finished at 12-under 204 after a final-round 67. Craig Stadler (68), who finished second for the third consecutive year in this event, and Brad Bryant (67) tied for second at 10 under.
Strange, also seeking his first Champions victory, kept the lead before a triple-bogey 7 at the 10th hole dropped him out of the top spot. He spiraled downward from there, finishing T-14 after adding three bogeys in the final six holes to finish with a back-nine 40.
After Stadler missed a 10-foot birdie putt on 18, Edwards needed a par on the par-5 closing hole for the victory. He put his third shot to 12 feet and rolled in the putt.
“This game is crazy,” he said. “I made a couple of 40-foot putts, and missed a couple of 2-footers. But they’re all the same value. You just have to keep playing.”
Getting a grip: Andy Bean’s new putting stroke helped him birdie three of the final four holes Friday for a 5-under 67 and a one-stroke lead after the first round of the 3M Championship.
For putts under 15 feet, Bean recently switched to what he calls a “modified claw,” where he turns his bottom hand and positions the putter between his middle fingers.
“Ever since I changed my grip on the short putts to the modified claw, I don’t have as much tension,” he said. “I’m able to keep the speed at a more consistent pace. I’m committed to using it. I hit every putt solid now.”
Bean, winless in four seasons on the 50-and-over tour, shot 73-71 the final two days to finish T-16. The 11-time PGA Tour winner has three top-seven finishes this season, including a tie for fifth at the U.S. Senior Open last month.
Bean feels like he’s just now putting his entire game together after injuries and family time limited his competitive golf during the 1990s.
“I took 10 years off as I watched my daughters grow up,” he said. “When I came back out, the ballstriking was there but the putting wasn’t. I wish I would have switched the putting grip when I started out.”
Short shots: After taking a three-shot lead through 36 holes, Curtis Strange said his problem was that he hadn’t been able to put three rounds together. That trend continued in a 4-over 76 Sunday. “I’ve hit good shots and had some good scores, but just haven’t done anything good three days in a row,” Strange said. “This year, I’ve had chances to be near the lead Sunday, but played some poor rounds.” Strange has shot 72 or higher in eight of his 15 final rounds this season. . . . Tom Kite, the 2004 3M winner, finished with an 8-under 64 – the lowest final-round score in tournament history – to tie for fourth at 9 under. . . . Bruce Summerhays, 62, who opened with a 6-over 78, made 10 birdies Sunday and also shot 64 to earn his first top 10 of the season. . . . Former major league pitcher Rick Rhoden tied for sixth to notch his third career top 10. Rhoden was a late add to the field, getting in early in the week after Allen Doyle withdrew. . . . David Edwards’ victory marked the sixth time the 3M has produced a first-time Champions Tour winner. Vicente Fernandez (1996), Leonard Thompson (’98), Ed Dougherty (2000), Bruce Lietzke (’01) and Wayne Levi (’03) also won their first tour titles in the event.
On the tee
Next up: Boeing Greater Seattle Classic, Aug. 18-20, TPC at Snoqualmie Ridge, Snoqualmie, Wash. Defending champion: David Eger.
The buzz: After a week off, the senior circuit begins a two-tournament swing through the Great Northwest.
The Seattle event will be followed by the year’s final major, the Jeld-Wen Tradition in Aloha, Ore.